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Red Cross under fire for training class methods, Heimlich maneuver guidelines

Posted at 5:54 AM, Sep 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-17 15:10:36-04

It's hard to imagine but there was a time when the Heimlich maneuver didn't exist.

The life-saving technique has helped countless people who have needed assistance while choking. But the children of the doctor who invented it are calling out the American Red Cross saying they aren't doing enough to make this the go-to move for choking victims.

The family of Dr. Henry Heimlich says they were at a pool when they saw a Red Cross training class and they saw back blows were being taught instead of the Heimlich maneuver.

The Heimlich involves getting behind the victim, making a fist just above the navel and thrusting up to dislodge the choking item.

The daughter of Dr. Heimlich, Janet Heimlich, says despite the abdominal thrusts saving countless lives, Red Cross guidelines show trainers teach people to first do five back blows with the heel of your hand and then if that doesn't work, people are instructed to do the Heimlich.

The Heimlich family say this training is throwing valuable information to the side.

"When they're teaching back blows first and they're focusing on that, then people aren't learning the fact that the Heimlich maneuver can be used on yourself. It's pretty hard to give yourself back blows," Janet Heimlich says.

Red Cross officials say, as with anything, training goes through changes. Official guidelines show they teach back blows first and then the Heimlich maneuver.

Colin Williams with the American Red Cross says, "There's a lot of different techniques and there's a lot of science behind all of this to see what is best. Let's face it, we do change what we teach. Currently, hands-only CPR is making its way into the curriculum whereas for many years it required rescue breathing."

The Heimlich family is still hoping the Red Cross will change training guidelines.